The US Senate has voted to acquit former president Donald Trump on charges of inciting a revolt last month on the Capitol, concluding a historic impeachment trial that exposed the fragility of America’s democratic tradition and left a divided country to accept the violence instigated by its defeated presidency.
The vote was 57-43, less than the 67 votes needed to get the sentence. Seven Republicans split from their party to find Trump guilty: Richard Burr from North Carolina, Bill Cassidy from Louisiana, Susan Collins from Maine, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, Mitt Romney from Utah, Ben Sasse from Nebraska and Patrick Toomey from Pennsylvania. It was the shortest impeachment trial in US history, lasting only five days.
Trump welcomed his release in a lengthy statement praising the Senate ruling. “This is another phase of the greatest witch hunt in our country’s history. No president has experienced anything like it,” the statement read. Trump thanked lawyers and defenders in Congress, who he said “stood proudly for a Constitution that we all respect and for the principles of holy law at the heart of our country”. Then he spoke directly to his supporters: “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has just begun.”
After voting to release Trump for inciting the rebellion, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell condemned the former president and called him “practically and morally responsible” for the unrest. He said he could not choose to punish because Trump was “constitutionally ineligible for punishment” because he was no longer president. “President Trump is still in charge of everything he did during his time in office,” McConnell said. “He hasn’t gotten away with anything.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scoffed at the “cowardly” Republican Party who voted for release. With the impeachment trial now over, some lawmakers have suggested condemnation as an option. Pelosi dismissed the effort as a very inadequate attempt to deal with violent attacks in the seat of state power. “What we see in the Senate today is a bunch of cowardly Republicans who seem to have no choice because they are afraid,” he said. “We condemn people for using stationery for the wrong purpose. We don’t condemn people for inciting a revolt that kills people in the Capitol.”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said January 6 would live on as a “day of blasphemy” in American history. Schumer took to the Senate floor to denounce the former president’s Senate release, calling the day of the uprising Trump’s “last terrible legacy” and saying the stains from his actions would never be “wiped out”.
Republicans are eager to finish the trial and move away from discussions about Trump and the uprising in the Capitol. Democrats, too, have a motive to move because the Senate cannot continue President Joe Biden’s new agenda including Covid-19 assistance while the impeachment trail is unfolding.
In closing arguments, Democrats again charge that Trump was responsible for the deadly January 6 siege on the day the Senate ratified the election results. “He abused his office by siding with the rebels at almost every point, rather than with the United States Congress, rather than with the Constitution,” said House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin.
Raskin has previously said witnesses were needed to determine Trump’s role in inciting the unrest. Fifty-five senators voted for motions to consider witnesses, including Susan Collins from Maine, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, Ben Sasse from Nebraska and Mitt Romney from Utah. Once they did, Lindsey Graham from South Carolina changed her voice to join them at 55-45.
Trump’s lawyers opposed witness calls, with attorney Michael van der Veen saying it would open the door for him to call around 100 witnesses. He said depositions could take place at his law office in Philadelphia, sparking laughter from senators.
“If you choose witnesses,” Van der Veen said, crossing his arms and then lifting them into the air to emphasize, “don’t handcuff me to the number of witnesses I can have.”
The outcome of this raw and emotional process reflects a country divided by a former president and his brand-name political future. The ruling could affect not only Trump’s political future but also senators vowing to provide impartial justice on a jury.
“If we don’t regulate this right and call it what it is, the ultimate constitutional crime by the president of the United States, the past will not pass,” another impeachment manager, Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, told senators. “The past will be our future.”
The nearly week-long trial has delivered a bleak and vivid narrative of the riots and their consequences in ways in which senators, most of whom fled for their own safety that day, admitted they were still coping.
Prosecutors argue that Trump’s call to go to the Capitol and “fight with all his might” for his presidency is part of a pattern of orchestrated violent rhetoric and false claims that fueled the masses. Five people were killed, including a rioter who was shot and a police officer.
Trump’s lawyers retaliated within three short hours on Friday that Trump’s words were not intended to incite violence and that impeachment was simply a “witch hunt” designed to prevent him from serving in office again.
Just by watching a graphic video – rioters screaming at the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the vote count – senators say they are starting to understand how dangerous it is to shut down the country to chaos.
Hundreds of rioters stormed the building, taking over the Senate. Some were involved in bloody direct battles with police
Trump’s lawyers have vehemently denied that the former president instigated unrest and they played out-of-context video clips showing Democrats, some of them senators who are now on juries, also telling supporters to “go to war,” aimed at paralleling Trump. that’s too hot. rhetoric.
“This is ordinary political rhetoric,” said van der Veen. “Countless politicians have talked about fighting for our principles.” Democrat senators shook their heads at what many would call a false equation with their own fiery words.
Trump is the only two-impeached president and the first to face trial charges after leaving office.
Unlike Trump’s impeachment trial on Ukraine affairs, the complex allegations of corruption and obstruction of his efforts to get the foreign ally to dig up dirt about his campaign rival Biden, this one carries an emotional blow to the US’s unexpected vulnerability. peaceful electoral traditions.